Major League Baseball launched an investigation into Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco and the team placed him on the restricted list after social media posts questioned the alleged nature of a relationship between Franco and a younger woman, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.
Franco, 22, did not make the trip with the Rays to San Francisco, where they begin a three-game series Monday, sources told ESPN. Teams can use the restricted list, which takes a player off the team’s roster and is typically unpaid, for a variety of situations, including potential legal matters.
In a statement, the team said: “The Tampa Bay Rays and Wander Franco have mutually agreed that he will go on the Restricted List and take leave from the Club for the duration of the current road trip.”
The league’s inquiry, conducted by its Department of Investigations, is looking into a number of social media posts concerning Franco’s relationship with the woman in the Dominican Republic, where he grew up.
Franco did not play Sunday, which Rays manager Kevin Cash said was a planned day off, and after starting the game in the dugout left in the fifth inning. He did not speak with the media after the game.
In November 2021, the Rays and Franco agreed on an 11-year, $182 million contract extension 70 games into his career. Franco has been one of the most productive players in MLB this season, batting .281/.344/.475 with 17 home runs, 58 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases, and made his first All-Star team.